Matters of Life and Death

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Simulation: Deep fakes, image as sacrament, David Beckham in Mandarin and therapy chatbots

Today’s topic is simulation. We live in an era when digital technology is making it increasingly easy and cheap to create fake but compelling images or videos of people, or even entirely artificial human-like personalities. Machine learning tools and progress in artificial intelligence software means we are closer than ever to things previously only imaginable in science fiction: computer programs which can speak to us like a human or androids which are indistinguishable from real people. In this episode we discuss examples of this kind of tech already in the world, what impact it may have in the future, and how we as Christians should think about these forms of simulated images, relationships and personalities. 


Tom Cruise deep fakes on TikTok

Synthesia - the company offering deep fake videos as corporate communications

MyHeritage Deep Nostalgia - a family history DNA company will now use AI to animate your old photos of dead relatives, 'bringing them back to life'

Affectiva - who claim to use AI to analyse human emotional states from looking at their faces

Simulation and Simulacra - the seminal work by Jean Baudrillard

The Truman Show film

The Matrix film

More Episodes

1/22/2021

Social media and free speech: Fake news, Facebook's 'Supreme Court', the Capitol riot and YouTube algorithms

In today’s episode we’re taking a sideways step from the covid pandemic and instead are discussing social media and free speech.The banning of Donald Trump from every social media platform following the deadly riot earlier this month at the US Capitol building has prompted fierce debates, not only about free speech and censorship online, but also the role of social media in fostering hate and lies. Why is it that so much horrendous stuff accumulates and spills out of social media, from deranged conspiracy theories about coronavirus all the way up to the violent and often racist political rhetoric which inspired the Capitol insurrection? Do we need more regulation and moderation of what people are saying online, or less? What are the implications of unaccountable tech CEOs barring anyone they choose from the world’s dominant communications networks? And how should we, as Christians, think about the ethics of free speech and censorship in our always online 21st century world?Our previous episode on conspiracy theories and misinformation online about coronavirus - https://shows.acast.com/matters-of-life-and-death/episodes/coronavirus-misinformationResearch on the spread of false and true news online, published in Science - https://science.sciencemag.org/content/359/6380/1146'Information Overload Helps Fake News Spread, and Social Media Knows It', published in Scientific American - https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/information-overload-helps-fake-news-spread-and-social-media-knows-it/